We are not going to get that Friday night. Nor are we going to see if Goran Dragic could drive into the heart of the Laker defense and start to break it down.
Both already listed as doubtful, Miami’s starting point guard Goran Dragic and starting center Adebayo will not play in Game 2, something first reported earlier in the day then confirmed pregame by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
“They were both lobbying to play and we ultimately had to take the decision out of their hands for tonight,” Spoelstra said, adding he listed to the team doctors.
It’s awful news for Miami.
In the 428 playoff minutes Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic shared the court, the Heat outscored their opponents by 55 points. In the 98 minutes both were off the court, they Heat were outscored by 42 points, per NBA stats.
— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) October 2, 2020
No Adebayo likely means Meyers Leonard returns to the starting lineup for the Heat, and he is the kind of traditional big the Lakers have feasted against all season. Kelly Olynyk will get more run and provides floor spacing as a big, but he is a defensive liability. Adebayo is critical for the Heat in this series — he is their best defensive rebounder and the guy they will turn to in the crunch to cover Davis. He struggled in both of those roles in Game 1 against the length and physicality of the Lakers, but he has the athleticism to adapt and adjust as the series goes on.
Miami relies on Dragic’s quickness to push the pace and break down defenses in the halfcourt, if he can’t do that more falls on rookie Tyler Herro (he was -35 in Game 1) and Kendrick Nunn, who will be back in the rotation and could start.
Miami’s margin for error in this series was slim even with their second- and third-leading scorers healthy. Take them out of the equation and…
“We’re still expected to win,” Jimmy Butler said. “We got here for a reason. We realize we belong. But we also realize how well we have to play on both ends of the floor to give ourselves a chance to win.
“Obviously we definitely need those two guys, don’t get me wrong. But I’ve always said, next man up when a man goes down, and right now we’re definitely going to have to do that.”
“This is when you feel most alive, when you’re being tested competitively and challenged in new ways, different ways,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said on the off day. “This is a quality opponent. This is the way the whole playoff system is supposed to be set up. It’s supposed to get tougher and more challenging every single round and may the best team win at the very end.”